I’ll be honest – I have never seen a good play at the Forest Arts Centre. But in fairness I haven’t seen every one of their productions. So before watching Enter the Dragons by A&E Comedy, I had no idea know what to expect. This poignantly hilarious and wacky play about defeating Chronos (the god of time) left me more than pleasantly surprised. It was the best play I’ve seen in ages! Abigail Dooley and Emma Edwards played pretty autobiographical characters, who enter a quest to defeat ageing itself. Their multi-rolling in whimsical costumes and piss taking voice overs likened them to Mighty Boosh characters, just with actual women performing the vital roles this time… Oh yeah and having created them too. BOOYA!
There were so many moments I loved, like the feminist message behind passing the sea of apology. A remorseful mermaid tries to persuade the protagonist to join her in a sea of apology… for eternity. ‘I’m sorry!’ ‘I don’t mean to rock your boat’ and ‘I didn’t mean to take up any space!’ repeated on a loop pedal, over and over and over… This was enough to make anyone feel they’ve been caught under an avalanche of madness. I just love how this real-life problem was shown for what it is – ridiculous!
They’re satire of plastic surgery was further commented on with a compassionate view which I found very balanced and needed as a lot of us find it so easy to judge, rather than understand. Yes, it is important to love what our mommas gave us, but they begged the question, don’t we all do things to try and alter our appearance in some way – big or small? We are all sailing in the same boat really. The quest to defeat Chronos, the god of time! And to maintain our value, which according to the patriarchy, in women’s cases, is placed upon our appearance. This play reminded me that we are society. We can define our own values. We can perpetuate them through storytelling and clever comedy that punches up instead of down.
The bravery of Abigale Dooley… Oh. My. God. She was mystically striking poses on stage to match the deeply intense voice over’s narration of her quest, when, to the audience’s gaping gasps, she sprung out from behind a cloth, stark naked and totally unabashed. The narrator prophesized ‘She continued on her quest, completely bare to the world… Naked’ Abigale struck a brooding wide legged pose before being interrupted by one crucial word… ‘metaphorically’. At this point, pissed off and completely pink, she mouthed ‘what the fuck?’ before exiting in a strop. Co-me-dy gold.
Abigale’s surprise made their ‘fuck it’ song so ever poignant. Why like what is supposed to keep you young? Yoga and skinny lattes? What is imposed on you, but does not work for you? Just why?! Fuck it! We all joined in, getting more boisterous as we sang. The bravery, vulnerability and hilarity of these women encouraged everyone in that audience to come closer to their authentic selves – a unique journey that, really, we are all on in life.
Their self-aware, forth wall breaking tone invited an embarrassed member of the audience on stage into their fantastical yet very relatable story. He was welcomed up and asked to help the protagonist cross the river of grief, on a bridge that was very delicate because of course, it was made of tears. So up he went, self-consciously operating a barbie doll as a puppet. This odd moment was made into a sharing of vulnerability by Emma. She describes her mother dying with a vivid metaphor; a roof being lifted from over her head. She was now left looking down on her children, their roof now. But when she looked up, it was empty space. We can all relate to that. I have seen this happen to my mother and father. I hope I will naturally reach that place when the time comes too. A scary but life affirming reminder of our mortality. We all seem to think we are immortal, don’t we? Pfft… death? It will never happen to me. When really, Enter the Dragons highlighted that being curious about death can help us live a more fulfilling life.
After finally meeting Chronos, the ‘inner diva’ made an appearance. Clad with a massive disco ball on her head and preaching ‘don’t take yourself too seriously! Now you’ve past 50, you’re free of the expectations of your own skin’. This is something I have been thinking about recently, working in a care home for elderly folks, you don’t judge them so hard on their appearance or views because they are them and you either take them or leave them. Counteractively, these two hilarious women addressed the paradox between being free of caring about how you are perceived but also feeling invisible. This was shown with the ‘cardigan of invisibility’. BEWARE OF BEIGE!
Another poignant moment was when Emma Described how we carry our past, present and future selves with us all the time. We should not just toss them aside because they are part of us. Emma suggested offering your 8 year old self some advice and taking gifts from your 80 year old self, to help you travel the path you are taking today. Why not? A moment of thoughtful silence was broken by Abigale, who stormed onto the stage bellowing ‘what is this a fucking ted talk?!’
These were genuinely loveable characters, true stories and an utterly entertaining, thought provoking hour. Upon leaving, we were offered a badge that read ‘fuck it’, which I now wear with pride. I’m sad to say that their tour is over. Luckily, however, they are putting on another show soon called Witch Hunt which I will definitely be booking a seat to go and enjoy. There was so much more to this play that I could not possibly describe or spoil – you must go and see A&E Comedy for yourself.
Thank you for your true vulnerability and absolutely fierce sense of compassionate humour, now KEEP SHREDDING IT LADIES!